Costa Rica 2015: Our Arrival and First Night in Monteverde
Our trip to Costa Rica began early. Our flight left town at 6 am, which meant a 4 am arrival at the airport, which resulted in a 2:45 am wake-up. Seeing as we went to bed around 1, we were exhausted and running on pure adrenaline. Our first flight had a lot of turbulence but the second was much smoother. We arrived in San Jose right before noon, as scheduled. The plan was to buy a Kolbi SIM card so we could use one of our phones in Costa Rica, but of course, the system at the airport was down so we couldn’t purchase one.
We met up with our driver next. He didn’t speak English, but luckily, we speak enough Spanish to get by. We told him wanted to try to buy a Kolbi SIM card and he took us to Walmart. It goes against all my rules in other countries to go to a place like Walmart in another country, but it really was the closest option. Unfortunately, they did not sell the SIM cards but we got some plantain chips, chocolate-covered coffee beans, and some drinks. We were able to stop at a small grocery store along the way so we could buy a Kolbi card. We had planned to stop for lunch on the way but decided just to eat our snacks so we could arrive to the hotel on time.
After driving through some crazy gravel roads up a really high mountain and almost hitting both goats and cows along the way, we finally arrived to Rainbow Valley Lodge in Santa Elena, Costa Rica.
If you ever visit the Monteverde/Santa Elena area, you must stay in this lodge. For $70 a night, we got the Upper Room, which consisted of a really cute little room complete with a covered balcony/porch overlooking the valley. The balcony/porch also included a mini-fridge, microwave, and sink. It was perfect for making a quick breakfast each morning. We also got to see rainbows several times and the view from the balcony was amazing. Christian, the owner, met with us and spelled out all of our options for tours and activities while we were visiting and many of them included discounts because we were staying at his lodge. He booked everything we decided to do. While sitting in his office, we got to meet his almost-2-year-old son who is absolutely adorable, but made me miss the kids.
We put our things in the room, changed clothes, and then met up with Christian a little later, as he had offered to drive us into town and show us where things were. It is only a few minutes away by car and the town was very small, so he dropped us off and we chose Restaurante Morphos for our first meal in Costa Rica. Eric chose a casado (a typical Costa Rican meal) and I ordered a dish that included chicken with a pineapple curry, which was absolutely amazing. We both had Costa Rican beer and finished dinner by splitting a coffee/ice cream/liqueur dessert.
We walked about 10 minutes to get back to our room and then got ready to go on a Night Tour. I had been reading about these and was actually a little nervous. I knew we could see lots of cool nocturnal animals, but that also included spiders and snakes, many of them poisonous. Our guide explained that most of the snakes in that particular area are arboreal so as long as we didn’t run into any trees or put our hands on leaves or branches without looking first, it would probably be fine. It was a small tour, just Eric and I and a girl from England. We saw a ton of animals and it turned out to be one of our favorite things on the entire trip. We saw 2 palm pit vipers (poisonous), but they were far enough away not to be concerned, a tarantula, a kinkajou running around in the trees, a porcupine (the kind that hang out in trees), several sleeping birds (I didn’t even know they slept in trees like that!), “dink” frogs (named after the “dink” sound they make), tons of leaf-cutter ants, lots of insect bats that kept flying right past us, and tons of other things that I can’t think of right now. Our guide was very informative and he taught us how to listen for things in the forest. The funniest thing we heard all night was the English girl on our tour asking if we could get closer to the poisonous palm pit viper. Crazy!